The Francis Crick Institute

Senior Laboratory Research Scientist

The Francis Crick Institute

London, United Kingdom

Senior Laboratory Research Scientist

Reports to: Lucia Prieto-Godino

This is a full-time, fixed term 1-year position on Crick terms and conditions of employment.


The post holder will be an expert in gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS). They will work between the Metabolomics Scientific Technology Platform, headed by James MacRae, and the Neural Circuits and Evolution lab, led by Lucia Prieto-Godino, at The Crick. The Prieto-Godino lab is interested in employing GC-MS to characterise the odour landscape of environments inhabited by different flies, some of which are pests and/or transmit diseases. The Metabolomics STP is a leading centre for GC- MS analysis and technology development. The project will involve working closely between both labs to set up new equipment, including a thermal desorption unit, a GC-MS, and coupling of the GC-MS to neurophysiology set-ups. Once the set-up phase is completed, the project will transition into a phase of training lab members, and acquiring and analysing data in a collaborative fashion. The post holder will report both to James MacRae and Lucia Prieto-Godino, while day to day supervision and interactions will happen with James MacRae and members of his and the Prieto-Godino lab. A high degree of expertise and independence is expected.

Project summary

In the Prieto-Godino lab (, we are finding out how the neural networks in the brain evolve by looking at different species. Because human brains are so complicated, we are addressing this question by studying the olfactory system of small flies (e.g. Drosophila and the tsetse fly) as a simpler model system. Surprisingly, the brain networks controlling our sense of smell and those of flies are incredibly similar, which allow us to draw general principles on how brains evolve from our studies in these insects.

To discover these principles, we use a wide range of scientific techniques to measure the activity of nerve cells in different species of fruit flies and monitor their behaviour in the lab.

In collaboration with the Metabolomics Platform (, this project seeks to expand on our current suite of methodologies by establishing a sophisticated analytical set-up for the analysis of the volatile molecules (the ‘odour landscape’) present in the natural environments these flies. This will involve the set up and implementation of GC-MS instrumentation and coupling this to (a) thermal desorption apparatus and (b) neurophysiological analytical equipment. From the set-up phase, the project will evolve into an experimental phase, requiring both the development of analytical methods using the afore-mentioned instrumentation and also the analysis of the volatiles of

the fly environment (most notably fruit volatiles) and their importance in fly physiological responses.

Key responsibilities

These include but are not limited to:

  • Metabolomics and mass spectrometry operations (60%). Efficient operation and maintenance of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS) instrumentation. Effective performance of in house-established metabolomics procedures, including generation of metabolomics samples and implementation of GC-MS, Thermal desorption, and solid phase micro-extraction (SPME) methods, along with establishing a coupled GC-MS-neurophysiology apparatus. This will also include experimental design, development of thermal desorption/mass spectrometry techniques, and as

  • Data analysis (25%). Effectively use data analysis software to process raw mass spectrometry metabolomics data and analyse large-scale metabolomics datasets, including statistical analysis; this will include feature identification and production of processed, analysed MS data in a format appropriate for presentation and publication.

  • Testing of new instrumentation (5%). The post-holder will be expected to lead on the testing of new instrumentation for implementation in the laboratory. This will be limited to the early stages of the post

  • Training (10%). The post holder will be responsible for training other members of the Metabolomics and Prieto-Godino labs in the operation of the thermal desorption/GC-MS set up. This will include training in sample preparation, data acquisition, and data

Key experience and competencies

The post holder should embody and demonstrate our core Crick values: bold, imaginative, open, dynamic and collegial, in addition to the following:


Qualifications, experience and competencies:

  • Evidence of significant experience in Metabolomics, Mass Spectrometry, Biochemistry, Analytical Chemistry, and/or
  • Evidence of significant experience in operation, maintenance and trouble-shooting of gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GC-MS)
  • Experience with mass spectrometer-associated data handling
  • Experience in metabolomics data analysis and
  • Ability to work with day-to-day independence; good oral and written communication
  • Open and interactive with line manager, laboratory colleagues, and
  • Organisational and time-management skills in order to be able to perform to strict deadlines.


  • D. in Metabolomics, Biochemistry, Analytical Chemistry, or other related discipline.
  • Experience in thermal desorption techniques and
  • High-quality refereed publications as a demonstration of
  • Proactive design/implementation of new analytical
  • Ability to synthesise scientific information into logical arguments; creativity and ability to think from first
  • Knowledge of other key metabolomics platforms (e.g. LC-MS).

Please apply via recruiter’s website.